H&Q Notebook: CSG's Stake in an AT&T/MediaOne Deal

Money managers are wondering whether the software maker would benefit from the deal. Also, items on Cybercash and CMGI.
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SAN FRANCISCO --

MediaOne

(UMG)

isn't the only one caught in the crossfire of

AT&T's

(T) - Get Report

battle with

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Report

for control of the cable company.

CSG Systems

(CSGS) - Get Report

also has a stake in the talks.

Ma Bell is one of the largest customers for CSG, which sells software that helps companies consolidate telephone, video and cable bills. Last year, when AT&T said it would acquire

TCI

, then one of CSG's largest customers, CSG's stock rose in anticipation of getting a slice of AT&T's business, too. Sure enough, CSG recently signed an exclusive, multi-year deal to handle AT&T's billing, helping CSG stock stay near its all-time high of 46 1/4.

Speaking at the

Hambrecht & Quist Technology Conference

, CSG's CFO Greg Parker declined to speculate on whether CSG would take on all MediaOne's business if AT&T won the bidding war. But he noted that CSG currently has about a fifth of MediaOne's billing business.

At least one fund manager who attended CSG's presentation is wondering whether the stock could be on the rise again. "This is a good stock," he says. "I've owned it for a while, and it's done well. It's an interesting area." With even more consolidation expected in the media and telecommunications areas, the fund manager says he's also looking at other leaders in billing software.

-- Medora Lee

Will Retailers Buy What Cybercash Builds?

As more companies try to make the jump from traditional retailing to e-commerce, a wealth of services are springing up to meet their needs. The barriers faced by companies new to the Net include: finding good engineers and building a loyal customer base.

Hoping to knock down these and other obstacles,

Cybercash

(CYCH)

is hoping to help "sticks and bricks" businesses move onto the Internet, as well as help Net companies buy offline businesses, Cybercash president James Condon said at the H&Q conference.

Not everyone was sold on the pitch. Cybercash faces stiff competition from

CheckFree

(CKFR)

,

EDS

(EDS)

and

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

, among others.

"They do provide an easy solution for the billing process," says one fund manager who sat in on the presentation and asked not to be named. "It's build vs. buy, but I want to learn more."

-- Suzanne Galante

CMGI Presentation Hits Bottleneck

CMGI's

(CMGI)

head honcho David Wetherell stood before a packed crowd here to try and explain the inexplicable: the value of the many Internet companies of which CMGI owns a piece.

It was, simply, too much to explain in a 20-minute presentation. Wetherell admitted to as much, saying that CMGI's venture capital fund

@Ventures

reviewed 1,000 business plans during February and 1,500 during March.

After flying through slides of affiliated companies, and a mention that CMGI's stock price is up some 42,000% since coming public, Wetherell said the best is yet to come. "We think the vast majority of our revenue events are in the future," he said.

Wetherell said he expects a dozen of companies he invests in to go public this year, including

Silknet

,

Chemdex

,

Raging Bull

and something called, well,

thingworld.com

.

-- Catherine Haley and Cory Johnson